Becoming a Dad… 3 Things I Learned in the First 5 months
My name is Stuart, I am a dad to a beautiful baby girl called Zadie Bella - and partner to an equally beautiful lady, Aliza.
Aliza and I underwent an extensive pre-conception plan 6 months before conceiving our baby girl, Zadie. This care continued throughout pregnancy and well into the newborn days. From the moment we decided we were ready to become parents, our entire focus shifted to ensuring we were as prepared and educated as we possibly could be. And as the cliche goes, becoming a dad has been my biggest achievement in life.
In my experience as a new Dad, these are the top three things I've learned:
Supporting my partner
As a new father, I often felt hopeless and helpless for a large portion of the birth and a larger portion of the newborn phase. Babies so often need and want their mums, which makes complete sense. These little humans have been growing warm and safe for 9 months and once they are born, often feel they are an extension of their mums. My role during this time was to support my partner while she spent relentless hours feeding, rocking, cuddling, doing skin-to-skin and so much more. While she cared for Zadie, I shifted my focus to care for Aliza - helping to change nappies, prepare nourishing meals, refilling her water bottle, packing the nappy bag and any tasks that I could possibly do to ensure mums well-being was supported. This was a learning curve for both of us, and something I know many other new dads experience too.
The change in myself
You change as a person when your family unit grows and there is a new baby to care for. All your thoughts and actions are directed toward your baby's health and happiness. Although this is something that I knew would happen, I didn’t quite understand the degree of it until our little girl was here. Nothing else really seemed to matter as much (work, household, general life problems) - the only overarching important factor was mum and baby were well.
Playing the long game
Now that I’m a dad, I am always thinking about the future. I have an obligation to Zadie, Aliza, my family, Aliza’s family and society to raise my daughter in the best possible way. This has become glaringly obvious as a new parent regarding my health and wellbeing (and Aliza’s). When we are exhausted, depleted and overwhelmed, it doesn’t best serve our daughter. We all know the phrase “you cannot pour from an empty cup”. However, it’s become incredibly relevant in new parenthood.
This always leads me to think of the best ways we can look after our physical, mental and emotional well-being. It also makes me think about how to be the best and happiest version of myself so that my daughter sees both her parents thriving and not just surviving.
This is the first time I am reflecting on being a new Dad in written form. As I write this, I cannot stop smiling. I have a perfectly happy and healthy family, and at the end of the day - the greatest lesson is the simplicity that comes with these basic things (health and happiness). There are times of stress and struggle and times when things just aren’t as you would like them to be, but in my opinion and experience, this is when your character is shown, and unwavering love is needed.
In summary, care for your loved ones and raise them with unwavering love, support and respect, after all, a child is one of life’s greatest blessings.
With love, a very tired and happy new father.